Episcopal Church ordains a Transgender Deacon


#1

Union Democrat reported on March 12, 2012:

A Tuolumne County woman was ordained as an Episcopalian deacon at a Saturday ceremony in Stockton, joining a small but growing group of transgender clergy members.

Carolyn Woodall, an attorney with the Tuolumne County Public Defender’s Office, was conferred the title in a ceremony at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne in Stockton, joined by dozens of church leaders, family members and friends.

She will serve at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, comprised mainly of local Episcopalians who stayed with the faith following a 2007 rift in the San Joaquin Diocese, which saw more-conservative members leave and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America.

Woodall called the ceremony “wonderful” and said she was “very relieved.”

“I’ve finally gotten past it,” she said.

The Rev. George Cano of St. Anne’s, who led Saturday’s sermon, said, “We know what it is being Christians in a prejudiced world,” adding that it took the division of the church to make the Episcopalian faith “truly inclusive.”

A long applause followed Saturday’s ceremony, and those in attendance rushed to hug and congratulate her and another newly ordained deacon, Eldon Wayne Anderson.

Woodall’s daughter, Shawna Woodall, traveled from Louisville, Ky., to see the ordination.

“I’ve been crying a lot,” she said. “She’s been working for this for a very long time. I’m really proud of her.”

“This is a glorious day,” added Jan Potter, of Sonora, who left St. James’ Episcopalian Church in Sonora when its leadership split and joined the Anglican Church.

“Carolyn is a backbone of our church,” said Potter, now a member of St. Mary’s.

Woodall moved to Tuolumne County in 2001 and joined the county Public Defender’s office as Clifford Lawson Woodall, a man.

Woodall, diagnosed with a gender-identity disorder, began appearing in court and openly dressing as a woman in 2004, and had surgery to complete the transition from man to woman in 2005.

Her faith never wavered, but at one time she began to feel unwelcome in the church she was raised in.

She had started the three-year course of study at the Episcopal School for Deacons in Berkeley in 1993. After one semester, John-David Schofield, then bishop of the diocese, asked her not to go there so she wouldn’t be contaminated by the liberal attitude at Berkeley, she said.

Schofield was among the church leaders voting to leave the Episcopal church in 2007.

Woodall completed 75 percent of a local education course.

“It was quite good as far as education went,” she said, “but when I began to have questions about myself and gender identity issues, I realized I couldn’t be ordained by him, so I dropped out of the process.”

She left the church temporarily, moving to Emanuel Lutheran Church in Modesto. She was a member of the Modesto church while undergoing her transition from Clifford to Carolyn in 2004 and 2005.

“I think it was a move God had me make to put me in an environment where I would be supported,” she said.

After a special convention was held on March 29, 2008, reforming the San Joaquin Diocese of the Episcopal Church, Woodall said, “I felt it was safe to come home to my church.”

“I went to St. Mary’s the next day,” she said. “They were meeting in the Senior Center at the time, and they enthusiastically greeted and welcomed me.”

She became active in the diocese and was part of a Bishop’s Commission on Equality, working to include marginalized and disenfranchised women, Hispanics and blacks, as well as gays, lesbians and transgender people.

She went back to the Episcopal School for Deacons in Berkeley in 2008, took some refresher courses and met other requirements, including being part of a community of deacons in training.

The Rev. Lloyd Schneider, of Tuolumne, the minister at Angels Camp Union Congregational Church United Church of Christ, was among those celebrating Saturday’s milestone.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything in the world,” he said. “I’ve known Carolyn since she moved to Tuolumne County, and I’ve always known her as a person of great integrity. I am very happy for her. Other parts of her life that have been a challenge melted away today.”


#2

Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Saviour of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Amen.


#3

The article even says that HE has gender-identity disorder.

If a man thought he was a chicken, would we smile and applaud as he wandered around and pecked the ground, and had a ceremony to celebrate his newly built coop?


#4

While i have several trans friends whom i love very dearly, isnt it basically saying that God made a mistake when creating them? How is that reconcilable with the priesthood?


#5

[quote="Aleksa, post:4, topic:279931"]
While i have several trans friends whom i love very dearly, isnt it basically saying that God made a mistake when creating them? How is that reconcilable with the priesthood?

[/quote]

I feel for such people and they need our prayers and support, but that doesn't mean altogether condoning such things. The article continually refers to this person as "she", but that's the whole point: HE is not a "she" and all the surgery and hormone therapies in the world can't make it so. This person is now a man with mutilated genitalia who is on large amounts of hormones to help feminize his appearance somewhat, that's it. I'm sure it must feel awful to feel like you're in the wrong body, but I'd think that's better than this end result...


#6

[quote="Aleksa, post:4, topic:279931"]
While i have several trans friends whom i love very dearly, isnt it basically saying that God made a mistake when creating them? How is that reconcilable with the priesthood?

[/quote]

God doesn't make mistakes but there are many mistakes in the natural world. These mistakes give us an opportunity to test TRUE faith through Christian love and charity. We have seen two headed cows and snakes, we have seen Siamese twins. Would anyone suggest that divided Siamese twin children would be an affront to God? I think not. Some people are so obsessed with anything THEY perceive to be of a sexual nature. I wonder what issues of there own they must be dealing with to project so much.

I pray for their guidance.


#7

At the risk of lacking Christian Charity, this makes me wonder; what new abomination will the Epispalians come up with? It seems they are Hell bent and determined to cause a Schism within the Church of England! I wonder how many more Anglicans will cross the Tiber because of this?


#8

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:7, topic:279931"]
I wonder how many more Anglicans will cross the Tiber because of this?

[/quote]

Peter denied Christ three times.


#9

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:7, topic:279931"]
At the risk of lacking Christian Charity, this makes me wonder; what new abomination will the Epispalians come up with? It seems they are Hell bent and determined to cause a Schism within the Church of England! I wonder how many more Anglicans will cross the Tiber because of this?

[/quote]

The Episcopal Church and the Church of England have, for several years, had priests with a transsexual history.


#10

Notice the article said she was "conferred" the title. Lutherans gave up their valid orders a LONG time ago, so she can play clergy to her hearts content in the Lutheran ecclesial body. However what worries me, and (in my opinion only) what I think should worry everyone else is that since she's now "ordained" in the Lutheran synod as a deacon, people might take her as an authority on Christian matters -- authority which only the Catholic, the only TRUE Church, has. And it worries me that this is becoming a trend amongst most major protestant denominations.


#11

[quote="LoyalViews, post:10, topic:279931"]
Notice the article said she was "conferred" the title. Lutherans gave up their valid orders a LONG time ago, so she can play clergy to her hearts content in the Lutheran ecclesial body. However what worries me, and (in my opinion only) what I think should worry everyone else is that since she's now "ordained" in the Lutheran synod as a deacon, people might take her as an authority on Christian matters -- authority which only the Catholic, the only TRUE Church, has. And it worries me that this is becoming a trend amongst most major protestant denominations.

[/quote]

I think this is an Episcopal body, not a Lutheran one, fyi.


#12

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:7, topic:279931"]
At the risk of lacking Christian Charity, this makes me wonder; what new abomination will the Episcopalians come up with? It seems they are Hell bent and determined to cause a Schism within the Church of England! I wonder how many more Anglicans will cross the Tiber because of this?

[/quote]

What in the world is wrong with the Episcopal Church???? Ok I know, but seriously, they have ordained an openly gay Bishop who had a lover/partner, now this? I know many will argue about women but people who openly admit they have struggled with mental issues and gender identity issues are ordained? Don't you have to pass a psychological screen to be ordained? Wow, I'm sure glad the Catholic Church isn't advocating women get their gender reassigned to address the priest shortage, God have mercy on us all. This is getting crazier by the minute. I shudder to even ask what's next.


#13

[quote="Blacksword, post:11, topic:279931"]
I think this is an Episcopal body, not a Lutheran one, fyi.

[/quote]

Right :doh2:

You see, I'm quite over-tired, and before this, I was looking back in Fr Z's blog for posts I had missed, and he was talking about a "transgendered" man being ordained as a "woman" in the Lutheran synod and I got mixed up.

:imsorry:


#14

Ugh! What on earth is wrong with some Christian denominations these days? Do they completely and totally ignore the Bible and Sacred Tradition??? Its no wonder so many people think Christianity is a joke when we have people claiming to be Christians who do such stupid things as this.


#15

[quote="Blacksword, post:5, topic:279931"]
The article continually refers to this person as "she", but that's the whole point: HE is not a "she" and all the surgery and hormone therapies in the world can't make it so.

[/quote]

I'm always bemused when I hear similar comments from ostensible Christians, as they betray a decidedly materialist metaphysic. Gender identity is an intricate and complex psychological process - the above quote only makes sense if we assume that the biological realm is the extent of personhood. I wonder if you would say:

I feel for children who are orphaned, but that doesn't mean condoning adoption. Children are the children of their biological parents and all the legal fiction in the world can't change what God has done in nature.

I have a feeling not, and yet your foregoing logic does not afford you any readily-apparent grounds for drawing a distinction. We correct cleft palates and heart murmurs all the time without fear of blaspheming God's intention. In the relatively rare case where a person's sex and gender happen not to match, it's far from obvious on a Christian anthropology that we ought to err on the side of privileging the material. And in any event, it's largely an academic question, since efforts to change gender to align with sex enjoy far less therapeutic success than the reverse, so absent more effective methods in that direction it's kind of pointless to argue about whether hypothetical developments would be more satisfactory than the current treatments of choice.

I am sure that the Revd Ms. Woodall would counter that the want of all the surgery and hormones in the world could not make her into a man, appearances to the contrary. "Faith alone, though site forsaketh ...!"


#16

[quote="Holly3278, post:14, topic:279931"]
Ugh! What on earth is wrong with some Christian denominations these days? Do they completely and totally ignore the Bible and Sacred Tradition??? Its no wonder so many people think Christianity is a joke when we have people claiming to be Christians who do such stupid things as this.

[/quote]

No they don't ignore the Bible. They may just have a different understanding of Scripture than you do.


#17

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:7, topic:279931"]
At the risk of lacking Christian Charity, this makes me wonder; what new abomination will the Epispalians come up with? It seems they are Hell bent and determined to cause a Schism within the Church of England! I wonder how many more Anglicans will cross the Tiber because of this?

[/quote]

The American branch & the rest of the world, basically, have already split.

Episcopal Split

A friend, whose family has since left the Episcopal Church entirely, explained it to me. It's a much deeper issue than that of ordaining women, or even embracing gays and women into their "priesthood." In order to do these things, the Episcopal Church of America has to ignore or twist Scripture itself, to suit their purposes. So what the issue truly is, is whether the Bible is the revealed Word of God, or whether it's just incomplete and in need of an update. The more traditional Episcopalians/Anglicans are sticking with the Bible - the other branch is growing more radically anti-Scripture all the time.


#18

Can anyone explain to me why on a subforum about Catholic *Living, spirituality, and daily walks with Christ, prayers, saints, sacramentals, the *Episcopal Church is being bashed?


#19

How do you figure this is bashing, when it is the unadorned truth of what is happening?

:confused:


#20

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:19, topic:279931"]
How do you figure this is bashing, when it is the unadorned truth of what is happening?

:confused:

[/quote]

It may be the truth according to your faith, yes. But again they may have a different understanding than you do.

So in light of this, I figure it by reading comments such as:

"In order to do these things, the Episcopal Church of America has to ignore or twist Scripture"

"What in the world is wrong with the Episcopal Church????... This is getting crazier by the minute. I shudder to even ask what's next."

"we have people claiming to be Christians who do such stupid things as this"

If Episcopalians said Catholics twisted Scripture, asked what was wrong with the Catholic Church and said things in Catholicism were getting crazier by the minute, shuddered to even ask what was to occur next in the Catholic Church, and said Catholics claiming to be Christians do stupid things, I'd likewise say the Episcopalians doing so were bashing you, those of your faith and your Church.

Hope that helps how I figured. I hope you had a most blessed Happy Easter! God's blessings along your faith walk and peace.


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